"Free speech rally" in Boston disbanded

"Free speech rally" in Boston disbanded

Transit police will have a "substantial presence" at subways and train stations today as right-wing organizations and counterprotesters - with the latter group potentially in the tens of thousands - flood into the city for the so-called "Free Speech Rally" on the Common.

Prior to the event, organizers of the free speech rally, mostly young white men, insisted their event was all about the freedom of expression.

Despite the group's rejection of white supremacists, ANSWER Coalition Boston, a local chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, held a counterdemonstration, which it dubbed "Fight Supremacy", to oppose the free speech rally.

Police officials say barriers will separate protesters from the estimated 200 rally participants and there are stiff restrictions on what demonstrators will be allowed to bring onto the Common.

Speakers Gavin McInnes and Augustus Invictus - both far right-wingers who enjoy the support of white nationalists - have announced they are dropping out of the Boston rally.

"We really made clear we don't want anyone hurt", Evans said.

"We are strictly about free speech", the group said on its Facebook page. No large bags, sticks or weapons will be permitted into the rally.

"Fitchburg State University has always been, and will continue to be, a community that values diversity and inclusiveness and understands the richness they bring", Lapidus said.

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"They have the right to gather", said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

In an email earlier this week, the city's parks department told licensed vendors that it was forbidding them from opening up shop on Saturday, citing safety concerns over a controversial planned demonstration.

Only about 20-40 people showed up to attend the rally, many of them supporters of President Donald Trump.

Evans said more than 500 Boston police officers on bikes, on foot and undercover will be at the rally, with more officers available if necessary.

Judging by the on-the-ground news coverage, they have barricades set up which are meant to keep the two groups of rally participants and counter protesters separated.

The Boston rally will come one week after violence in Charlottesville, Virginia; it's where a white supremacist rally turned deadly as marchers clashed with counter-protesters.

Two of the right's most galvanizing figures, Gavin McInnes and Tim Gionet (Baked Alaska) were scheduled to speak, but have pulled out after Charlottesville. "His offensive rhetoric and failure to condemn white supremacy in Charlottesville highlights a failure of the Trump administration to properly address issues that matter to people of color and promote unity and tolerance across our nation".

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